When asked if CEO Carlos Ghosn should resign over a now debunked espionage scandal, Eric Besson, France’s Industry Minister, told RFI radio that he did not want to destabilize Renault S.A. Besson explained that Ghosn played a crucial role in Renault's alliance with Japanese carmaker Nissan and was also dealing with an industrial challenge with the launch of electric cars.
Renault had recently admitted it had wrongly fired three senior executives in January 2011 on suspicions of industrial espionage, after it had been tricked into believing they had sold vital information on the electric car project to third parties, possibly involving China.
The three executives denied wrongdoing from the start and sued Renault. A Renault security manager is under investigation for suspected fraud. Ghosn and Patrick Pelata, the Company COO, kept their jobs after spy claim was revealed to be a lie.
Despite choosing to give up their bonuses, they continue to face public pressure over the fiasco, which is believed to have a broad impact to the industry.
The affair, which embarrassed the French government (Renault’s 15 percent owner), had caused a rift with China weeks ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the country.
Beijing had implicitly rebuked France over its handling of the matter, saying it hoped that people verified facts before unjustly blaming the country.